"You are only as good as your last game. It is all about the W." This statement was said to me many times by someone I knew that had been a professional basketball player. The damage done to his knees after years of playing had taken him out of the game in his early thirties. At one time his name had been known by many and now he is remembered by only a few.
And it was the statement that kept coming to mind as I read Ezekiel chapter 18.
"When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.
Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.
Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not my ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live!"
Ezekiel 18: 26-28
Funny the things that God uses to teach us. I am not a sports fanatic. Not even close. I don't watch sports on my own accord, but will if someone else is interested. But I have watched many a basketball game because my youngest loved to play. And I, being his mother, loved to watch because he loved it. And so my knowledge of basketball made it so I could get to know a pro-ball player. The one who would say you were only as good as your last win.
What he was saying is that as long as you won, your fans loved you. Winning put you on top. You became idolized. But the minute you start losing, you fast became a nobody. Those fans that would flock for your autograph would no longer seek you out. You would very quickly lose the fascination and glory you received from the watching public.
At the time he said this, I thought it a very good lesson to take to heart. Never did I ever think that God would apply it to how He sees things.
In Ezekiel chapter 18, God is letting us know how he views our actions. He really doesn't care or even look at how many things you did correctly in your past or how many evil things you did. He does not keep a score card to see which action out ways the other. He only cares about the current state of your heart. Where are you at this very moment? Was your very last action, thought or deed a "W" or an "L"?
Through Ezekiel He says that we can cast away all the wrongs we have done. Dispose of them. Completely. We can do this He says by getting a new heart and a new spirit. How do we do this?
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17
How cool is this? No matter what you have done in the past, no matter what your thoughts or actions, once you are in Christ, it is all gone. You become a new creation with a new spirit and and a new heart. The old you is wiped away.
It is so sad that many of us Christians, me included many times, have trouble believing this. We condemn ourselves for our past actions. We condemn others for theirs because we so want them to pay for being "bad". The last thing we want as humans is for someone "to get away with it" scott free. That just isn't fair, is it? Ah, this is exactly how the house of Israel was feeling when Ezekiel delivered the words of the Sovereign Lord. Us humans don't change much, do we?
What the one who is the epitome of love is saying is, "Really? Who is not being fair? Me or you?" Think about it. The Holy Father says over and over and over again that He does not want anyone to die. Why, then do we want to be such harsh judges against one another and ourselves? Why do we keep picking up the heavy chains and burdens and keep carrying them around? We just keep carrying around stinky, rotting trash.
The One who laid the foundations of this earth and knows firsthand its measurements and laid its cornerstone, the One who loves you with the love of a dear father, a friend, and a beloved husband, He only looks at this very moment. Where are you right now? What heart do you have at this very moment? An old one? Or have you traded it in for a new one, beloved?